Peyote is a cactus native to the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Mature peyote doesn’t have any spines and grows distinctive button-shaped discs harvested and consumed for their psychoactive properties. Peyote has been used for centuries by Indigenous peoples for medicinal and religious use.
Once the peyote buttons are harvested from the cactus, they can be dried and turned into tea. They may also be smoked or ground up for consumption. Peyote is often consumed as a part of healing or spiritual ceremonies by Native Americans.
The peyote cactus produces a small flower in its center. It can take 30 years for a plant to mature to the size of a golf ball and flower in the wild. However, cultivated peyote can mature much faster.
One of the psychoactive alkaloids found in peyote is 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, more commonly known as mescaline.
Peyote as Sacred Medicine
Mescaline and peyote have become more popular in recent years, and parts of the U.S. are considering decriminalizing entheogenic plants. However, wild peyote has become more scarce due to habitat loss and improper harvesting methods by non-Natives.
It’s important to note that the peyote cactus has been a sacred part of Indigenous culture for millennia, and respect for Native traditions is imperative. Currently, the only people legally allowed to use peyote in the U.S. are the Native American Church (NAC) members.
The National Council of Native American Churches (NCNAC) and the Board of the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI) have requested that peyote not be included in decriminalization measures to preserve peyote populations for Indigenous use.